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Building Serious Basketball Competitors On and Off the Court-Interview with Coach RJay Barsh

 Basketball Head Coach R-Jay Barsh is one of the few basketball coaches who specifically encourages his athletes to, “take the competitive drive from the court into their everyday life. If you want an A in a class, then you need to compete for an A. If your relationship with your father is unhealthy, then you need to compete to make that healthy.” There are only a handful of coaches who train their players quite like R-Jay Barsh.

            Every two weeks, Barsh sits down with each player for fifteen minutes to check up on them and see how everything is going. They discuss goals and then Barsh helps his athletes break down their large goals into small habits so they are actually achievable. Barsh and his staff develop the leadership, work ethic, and responsibility of their players by keeping them accountable for all aspects of their life. “A lot of our leadership development take place outside of basketball. If I can get a young man to understand the importance of balancing a checkbook or the importance of sitting in the front row in class—if he can understand those values, then I can say, ‘Okay, that’s trust. That’s responsibility. That’s being proactive.’ Then you can trust that young man in a game.” In that way, Barsh is creating more than equipped athletes, he is training them to be equipped men.

            When recruiting players, or evaluating the amount of influence that a player has, R-Jay will look at far more than the number of points, or rebounds, or steals on the stats sheet. “I always tell my players that body language is the window to your soul, so if you’re emotional and your body language is bad, then that’s telling us exactly how it’s going to be when it gets hard in the classroom.” If you want to make a difference with your leadership or stand out to your coaches, you need to have “vocal responsibility.” You need to be intentional with what you say and how you say it. “Find ways to be the ultimate encourager, because there are always ways to encourage. There is never a time in a practice or in a game when you can’t be an encourager. Then, when people get used to hearing your voice, they respond to it in adversity.” Even more importantly, “develop personal relationships with your teammates before you try to hold them accountable on the court.” Your teammates will only respond to and follow you on the court if you show that you are invested in them off the court. The staff at Southeastern recognize that there is so much more to being a good leader than what you do in the gym.

            Clearly, Coach R-Jay Barsh trains his athletes to perform and live a very specific way. So often, athletes source their entire identity in what they can accomplish on the court. The truth is that athleticism will fade, and if your entire identity lies in your basketball career, you will be left with nothing. Barsh models to his players that you should be about so much more than just basketball. “When someone asks me, ‘Coach Barsh, who are you?’ I don’t want my first answer to be, ‘I’m a basketball coach.’ I want to say, ‘I am a father. I am a minister at my church.’” As an athlete, your mindset from basketball should be applied to all areas of life. When you develop your habits and expectations for yourself off the court, you will be a more effective athlete, but, more importantly, a person who has a purpose beyond athletics. 

About Coach Barsh

            Coach Barsh started attending NBC Camps when he was in the sixth grade and then played basketball at Puyallup High School. After graduating, Barsh played at Tacoma Community College, taking the conference championship as a freshman on his team. It was at TCC that Barsh realized he wanted to be a coach. Suffering a back injury, he turned his focus from the development of his own game to the development of other players. After earning his business degree at Central Washington University, Coach Barsh transferred to the University of Puget Sound to get his communications degree and be a student-coach for the men’s basketball team. When a position opened up at Tacoma Community College, Barsh accepted, beginning his college coaching career. After winning the 2011-2012 Season Championship, he accepted the offer to become head coach at Southeastern University. In the past four years, he has coached at Southeastern, they have reached the Final Four in 2014, played in the tournament championship in 2015, and sent multiple players to play professionally. Barsh has been recognized as an excellent coach, investing in his players’ lives and giving them tools for success that go beyond their future on the court.

About NBC Basketball Camps

NBC Basketball Camps began in 1971 with the mission to build better players and better people. NBC Camps staff want campers to be strong on the court and in the classroom. Camps are located in 22 cities and 6 countries. If you love basketball enough to work hard, you will love NBC Basketball Camps.   Find out more about NBC Basketball Camps. 

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